Former Talksport man Charlie McCann marks your card with five to follow on Saturday at the Aintree Festival where One For Arthur is his pick in the Grand National. View selections below
The Randox Health Grand National will always be my favourite sporting occasion of the year and the hope is that all forty horses and riders come back safe and sound from the greatest horse race in the world.
Having backed Cause Of Causes The Young Master and One For Arthur (5.15) when the weights were announced I will not desert the trio and the hope is that the latter can provide Scotland with their first success in the race since Rubstic in 1979.
One For Arthur wasn’t a natural over the unique National fences in the early stages of the Becher Chase over today’s unique fences back in December but he warmed to his task and that experience won’t be lost on him. It is often an advantage to race prominently in the National and the hope is that jockey Derek Fox does not get too far back on this thorough stayer.
The selection warmed up for the race by winning a National Trial at Warwick at the end of January and this has been the plan since – yes a softer surface would have helped but I cannot desert him now and the Lucinda Russell stable did us a favour with an 11/1 winner earlier in the week.
At ¼ odds 6 places with BetVictor it is One For Arthur (12/1) who gets the each way vote for National glory.
In the opening 3m Handicap Hurdle the novice No Hassle Hoff (1.45) may have been let in lightly for his handicap debut. The selection lacks experience of big-field handicaps but he has sneaked into the race at the foot of the weights and at 10/1 with BetVictor he is another each way recommendation.
Charbel will be all the rage in the Maghull Novices’ Chase given there are some who feel he would have given the brilliant Altior a race when he came down two out in the Arkle last time. He must go close but he won’t get an uncontested lead and I have been waiting for Politilogue (3.00) to run back on a flat track over the minimum trip and I think 4/1 at BetVictor is a fair price.
The extended three-mile handicap chase is a cracking race and Value At Risk is a particular favourite of mine but I’m not convinced he wants to be stepped up to three miles and he is reluctantly overlooked.
The Irish raider Full Cry will love the ground and has every chance but another novice Emerging Force (3.40) returns from a near four-month break for Harry Whittingham and at 7/1 with BetVictor can make a bold bid to make all.
The selection was clear when coming down in a handicap hurdle at Haydock last March on good ground and the stable are beginning to come out of what ailed them for much of the winter. The selection is 7/1 with BetVictor and is another each way recommendation.
I’m not convinced the Alan King yard are firing on all cylinders at present and for that reason Champion Hurdle flop Yanworth is overlooked stepped up to three miles. Trainer Warren Greatrex felt the Cheltenham executive had over-watered at the Festival and the hope is that the ground is quick enough for Cole Harden (4.20) with a visor applied for the first time.
The selection was fourth in the Stayers’ Hurdle but temperatures are supposed to reach the early 20s this afternoon and let’s hope the ground, at least on the Mildmay course, is not watered too extensively for the selection. At 9/2 with BetVictor he is another each way recommendation.
My two against the field in the finale are So Celebre (6.15) and Curious Carlos with preference for the former who scored at Ascot in a very fast time on Sunday. If the selection is over those exertions, a 5lbs penalty may not be enough to prevent a follow up with leading conditional David Noonan in the saddle.